The Thanksgiving holiday brought more eyes to the world of golf than usual, as “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was an arduous back-and-forth battle that needed four extra holes to be settled.
For the second-consecutive week, golf revolves around the legendary Woods, as he plays host in The Bahamas for the annual Hero World Challenge. The exclusive field has just 18 golfers, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality – in spades, with 11 of the world’s top 15 in attendance, and nobody outside the top 32.
It is not an official PGA Tour event, but the money is real – as are the world ranking points, and it offers golf fans one last chance to watch (and gamble on) the world’s best in 2018.
Here is how Pro Golf Weekly ranks this stacked field, although we would not be surprised to see any of the 18 leave Albany victorious:
18. Alex Noren
The first half of Noren’s 2018 was much better than the latter half, especially on the PGA Tour where he posted top-3 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open, the Honda Classic, and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
His year on the European Tour was similar, although he did at least notch a victory, when he finished atop the leaderboard at the French Open.
Since that event – which concluded on the first of July, however, the game of the elite putter has fallen precipitously. His most recent result, a T9 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, gives some hope that maybe he is coming back around.
He has played the Hero just once, posting just one round under par on his way to a T12 in last year’s edition.
World Rank: 18th
Field Rank: 13th
Last Six: 9, 18, 18, 24, 43, MC
17. Henrik Stenson
One of the more paradoxal occurrences in the 2018 season, Stenson led the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, but that unbelievable accuracy still yielded a pretty unremarkable season by Stenson’s standards, with no victories and just five top 10s in 16 starts.
Most of the success he did have was early on, with the highlights being a T5 at The Masters and a T6 at the U.S. Open, but a nagging elbow injury circumscribed his second half, and he has not posted as much as a top-10 finish since that Shinnecock weekend back in June.
As for this event, it is difficult to have a more hit-or-miss history than Stenson has been in his three Hero starts. On the plus side, he was runner-up in both the 2014 and 2016 editions. On the negative side, he finished 17th among 18 entrants last year, one of just two players in the field to finish over par.
World Rank: 28th
Field Rank: 16th
Last Six: 12, 29, 69, 20, MC, 39
16. Keegan Bradley
The former PGA Championship winner would have looked out of place had he been in last year’s Hero field, but after a remarkable comeback season where a stellar iron game allowed him to play 23 of 27 weekends, with a big-time victory in September’s BMW Championship – the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs, Bradley is as close to tier 1 as he’s been in years.
Easily the best Vermont native on Tour, Bradley saw his world ranking rise from 71st to 29th in 2018, and he is off to a good start in the new season with a sixth place finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions last month. He has played this event just once, but played great, finishing T3 in the 2015 event.
World Rank: 29th
Field Rank: 17th
Last Six: 17, 6, 19, 26, 1, 49
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